SONDERLABORATORIUM SS. ZAMOJSZCZYZNA
Pierwszy Obszar Osiedlenczy w Generalnym Gubernatorstwie.
THE SS SONDERLABORATORIUM. THE ZAMOSC REGION
The First Settlement Area in The Generalgovernment
by Agnieszka Jaczynska.
Reviewed by Jan Peczkis
This IPN publication is literally a mini-encyclopedia of Aktion Zamosc and the Zamosc Uprising. It is loaded with photographs, documents, etc., and all text is simultaneously in Polish, German, and English.
COMPELLED POLISH LABOR. EVEN SLAVE LABOR
This work contains seldom-mentioned information. For instance, the letter “P” emblem, which the Germans forced Polish forced laborers to wear, is called the PETKA. (p. 285). By 1944, the Germans had deported some 700,000 Poles to the Third Reich for forced labor, and the figure rose to over 1 million by the end of 1944. (p. 283).
The Germans made Poles into outright slaves. This was notably true of Zamosc-area children, as described by the Home Army (A. K.) Information Bulletin, “We have learned that numerous groups of children from the Zamosc Region reached Pomerania already in February . At railway stations in Bydgoszcz, Chojnice, Tczew and Gdynia, Germans organized official slave markets, where a child cost 40 marks.” (p. 315).
POLOCAUST: THE GENOCIDAL CHARACTER OF GENERALPLAN OST
The Zamosc Operation was a scaled-down version of GENERALPLAN OST. (p. 21, 94). The original plan had presupposed the military and political collapse of the USSR. Jaczynska writes, “Plans drawn in 1941 assumed that during 25 years about five million Germans would settle on the Polish lands and on the western territory of the Soviet Union. In order to carry out this operation, about 30 million residents of their territories were to be resettled behind the Ural line, some were to be used as labor forced, and others murdered. However, the memorial of June 1942 recommended the resettlement of the local population to labor camps, which in fact equaled their slow death of slave, weakening labor and malnutrition.” (p. 49).
GERMANS CONFISCATED POLISH PROPERTY JUST AS THEY CONFISCATED JEWISH PROPERTY
Author Jaczynska describes how the newly-arrived German settlers at Zamosc got a windfall from the German authorities, at Polish and Jewish expense, “‘Ethnic Germans’ took over whole Polish farms, including all belongings and livestock of their previous owners. In addition, the settlers were given help from a special company, the Siedler Wirtschaft Gemeinschaft, established in Zamosc in order to redistribute Polish and Jewish belongings seized by the Germans.” (p. 345).
GERMANS TRANSPORTING POLES BY RAILROAD TREATED THEM LIKE THE JEWS
Jaczynska quotes an eyewitness who writes, “Almost every day trains filled with our folk leave Zamosc for Lublin, carrying the people into the unknown. In addition, there are also trains from Bilgoraj, heading for Lublin as well. Cars are overcrowded the same way as they were once with the Jews…One could hear moans, crying, and begging–‘water’, ‘drink.’” (p. 145).
POLES AND NOT ONLY JEWS EXPERIENCED SELECTION: SOME ZAMOSC-AREA POLES WERE GASSED AT AUSCHWITZ
Just as the Jews arriving at Auschwitz had to go through a “selection”, so also did the arriving Poles. Author Jaczynska comments, “As a result of the selection, old, sick, or crippled women were sent to the barrack called ‘Death Block,’ from where they were sent to the gas chambers…Men, before being registered, had to go through selection as well, where old, crippled, or young boys were picked out. Their exact fate is unknown…” (p. 227).
THOSE ZAMOSC POLES NOT GASSED GENERALLY HAD THE “LUXURY” OF DYING SLOWLY
We hear that Poles arriving at Auschwitz were generally not gassed, unlike the case with most arriving Jews. While this is true, most of the Polish inmates still died–by ways that were even more cruel. The method and speed of murder should not be confused with the significance of the murder. Jaczynska writes, “Tragic living conditions in the camp, and hard, exhaustive work, apart from direct killing methods, contributed to high mortality rate among the repatriates from the Zamosc Region imprisoned in Auschwitz–82% of 1301 registered prisoners died, most of them survived only a few months in the camp. Only 229 people survived their imprisonment at the camp.” (p. 227).
In addition, Zamosc-area Poles perished in other places. For instance, at the Zamosc rotunda, a Gestapo prison and execution site, the Germans murdered some 8,000 Poles by July 1944. (p. 160).
ZAMOSC UPRISING: SAME FEARS OF A NATIONWIDE CONFLAGRATION AS WITH THE JEWS’ WARSAW GHETTO UPRISING
Armia Krajowa (A. K.) Commander Stefan Rowecki “Grot” reported, to the Polish Government in Exile in London, the extent of the German atrocities and the growing Polish guerrilla response to them. The following was the initial response of the Government, “The authorities were afraid that partisan activities would spread outside the Lublin region, which both Sikorski’s government and its civil and military representatives in the occupied country believed to pose a threat of uncontrolled partisan activities, for which the resistance in the country was not yet ready. At the same time they were afraid of German repressions against the civilian population. However, on 9 January 1943, the Government-in-Exile sent to the country instructions for the Government Delegate for Poland and the Commander of the Home Army, approving their decisions.” (p. 367).
Now, when it comes to the initially-reluctant Polish aid to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, some Jews have accused the Polish Underground of being indifferent to the Jews, owing to the Underground’s expressed fears of the fighting spreading to Polish areas and incurring savage German reprisals. We see that it had nothing to do with any kind of indifference to Jews: Much the same concerns, about losing control of the fighting, that had initially governed the Jews’ Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, had also initially governed the Poles’ Zamosc Uprising!
In order to avoid repeating basic information already given in earlier reviews, I provide links to such reviews. For a general overview of Aktion Zamosc, see:
For works dealing with how Polish guerrilla warfare forced the Germans to discontinue the operation, see:
On the Poles, notably children, killed or expelled by the Germans as part of this operation, see:
For a German perspective on the Zamosc Operation, see: